November 02, 2014

Mini-F1Update!: United States 2014

A beautiful day, the type you only get in the American West, greeted the F1 Rancheros as they brought their steers to market steeds to the lights.  As has become the norm, the two Mercedes drivers led the rest of the pack to the grid... which would get home first?  THIS is your Mini-F1Update! for the 2014 United States Grand Prix!

*LIGHTS OUT SAFETY CAR:  It wasn't really that fast, but close.  Roughly half-way around the first lap, the Force India of Sergio Perez bonked the rear of Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari, then did unspeakable things to the Sauber of Adrian Sutil.  While the Red Car was undamaged, Perez suffered a nose removal and suspension damage, and Sutil came to a halt sideways on the racing line.  Immediately a Safety Car was called out, one that lasted four laps as sweepers manned their brooms to clean up the immense amount of carbon fiber shards.

*BACK WE GO:  Once the safety car went away, Rosberg held the lead easily through the first round of pitstops.  Once the two Mercs were on fresh rubber, however, things changed.  For whatever reason, the new tires sat better on Hamilton's car.  He immediately began to whittle away at Rosberg's lead, passing him on Lap 24.  While his lead would never get much higher than three seconds, it also was never under any sort of threat, either  Hamilton would win the race by a couple of seconds over his teammate, opening his driver's championship lead to 24 points with 75 points available.

*IN OTHER NEWS:  Lotus' Pastor Maldonado earned his first point of the year today, bringing the team's total to nine.  Last year, they scored 315.  It's impossible to imagine any team having a more desperate season than that.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE:  4Time Vettel.  Starting from the pit lane due to an engine change, he wound up enduring four pit stops.  The last came with eight laps to go, and dropped him to 13th.  By the end of the race, the fresh rubber had allowed him to go insane, jumping up to 7th... and with one more lap, he may have caught HWMNBN for 6th.  Not too shabby, that.

*TEAM OF THE RACE:  If I could find any other team to give it to, I would... but there isn't one, so Mercedes, here ya go.  Another 1-2 lockout, ho-hum.

*MOMENT OF THE RACE: Hamilton's pass of Rosberg on Lap 24.  Under normal rules, it would have almost guaranteed him his second world championship.  As it is, he's still in good shape, but one mechanical glitch could cost him everything... despite having won 10 races to Rosberg's four.


"Yeeeeeeee-hawwwww!  Get along, lil' dogies!" - Lewis Hamilton

"I don't know him." - Nico Rosberg

"Did you know that the Australian version of the 'cowboy' is a stockman?" - Daniel Ricciardo

"In Brazil, they're called 'gauchos'." - Felipe Massa

"Which is also the name of an album by Steely Dan.  Finland doesn't have cowboys, unless you count the ones that watch the reindeer herds." - Valterri Bottas

"The cowboy tradition originated in Spain, leading to the vaquero of Mexico." - HWMNBN

"There's a certain subset of Germany that's obsessed with the American Old West.  An author named Karl May who wrote dozens of German Westerns, despite never having visited America, is to blame." - 4Time Vettel

"The Jutland region of Denmark has a very 'Old West' feel to it, even today." - Kevin Magnussen

"Venezuela is nigh-on the birthplace of cowboys, except we call them llaneros." - Pastor Maldonado

"In France, we have gardians, who herd cattle in Provence." - Jules Vergne

Next weekend, we're in Brazil!  See ya then.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 10:27 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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November 01, 2014

F1 Quals: United States 2014

A surprisingly chilly day greeted the F1 cowpokes as they guided their steeds onto Austin, Texas' Circuit of the Americas in preparation for Sunday's US Grand Prix.  Which of 'em would be named sheriff, and which would be dangling from the end of a rope?  Let's take ourselves a look at the provisional grid:

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:38.303 1:36.290 1:36.067
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:37.196 1:37.287 1:36.443
3 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1:38.249 1:37.499 1:36.906
4 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1:37.877 1:37.347 1:37.205
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:38.814 1:37.873 1:37.244
6 HWMNBN Ferrari 1:38.349 1:38.010 1:37.610
7 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:38.574 1:38.024 1:37.655
8 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1:38.557 1:38.047 1:37.706
9 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:38.669 1:38.263 1:37.804
10 Adrian F'n Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1:38.855 1:38.378 1:38.810
11 Crashtor Maldozer Lotus-Renault 1:38.608 1:38.467
12 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1:39.200 1:38.554
13 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:38.931 1:38.598
14 Kid Kvyat STR-Renault 1:38.936 1:38.699
15 Jules Vergne STR-Renault 1:39.250

16 Esteban! Sauber-Ferrari 1:39.555

17 4Time Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:39.621

18 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:39.679

If you ask the Legendary Announce Team, it's something of a miracle that Rosberg and Hamilton made it to Q3, let alone lock out the first row.  Both Merc drivers have been dealing with technical difficulties all weekend, the type that make engineers pull out their hair, mechanics lose sleep rebuilding entire cars to find a single mistinned lead, and drivers throw hissyfits while spilling their energy drinks.  Rosberg seemed to have a side-to-side brake balance problem, something that you almost never hear of in F1, while Hamilton was having shifter difficulties.  Both of these "miraculously" cleared up before Quals, which saw Hamilton make a teeny bobble in Q3 to give his teammate pole for Sunday's race.

Last year, 4Time Vettel won this race, with Lettuce Grosjean standing next to him on the podium.  Quite the difference a year can make.  Grosjean just has a miserable pile of scrap for a car, and Vettel, knowing that he has to start from the pitlane for using a completely new powerplant (his seventh, one beyond the limit), barely even tried.  The talk was, in fact, that he wouldn't even appear in Quals, until someone pointed out that put his ability to race in the hands of the Stewards (for not setting a time within 107% of the fastest time in Q1), officials who were already in a foul mood because of the loss of two teams.

Hail Adrian F'n Sutil for finally giving Sauber their first appearance in Q3 this season... and if that isn't a terrible proclamation, I don't know what is.   

Actually, I do know what is.  There's at least a chance that there will only be 12 cars taking the lights tomorrow.  To protest the incredible imbalance between the financial situations of the big teams and the smaller ones, Lotus, Sauber and Force India have been linked to a boycott of the race.  All three teams have been reported to be suffering financial difficulties, and to be fair, F1 is completely cocked up when it comes to the money situation.  For example, the 2013 payout was something like $900 million... and Ferrari got $100 million right off the top simply because they're Ferrari, over and above their prize winnings.  That right there is more than the annual budgets of either of the two teams missing this week, Marussia and Caterham.  Something does have to be done about this imbalance, and this threat is a good way to draw attention to the problem.  The three teams can absolutely kill any chance F1 has to get back into the US long-term (remember the 2005 debacle?), and what do they care?  As is, none of them will be around in two years, driven out by the manufacturers.

Someone from Lotus tweeted that they'll be racing, but team boss Gerard Lopez was quite angry at yesterday's team principal press conference, which makes for quite eye-opening reading.  Will they go through with the boycott?  Probably not, but we won't really know until the teams form up on the grid for the lights.

Tomorrow could prove to be quite interesting!  See ya then.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 01:54 PM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
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